Stop suing the bartender for what the drunk does
In this increasing culture of victimhood where nothing is ever one's own fault, Dram Shop laws have become accepted without question. It's time to question them.
Take for example the case of the parents of Ariana Williams, 27 years old, who was killed last year in a crash riding with her friend Justin Rodriguez, then a Burlington Township police officer. Being a cop he should have known better. But he spent the night at two different bars according to a lawsuit filed by Ariana's parents. First at a Ruby Tuesday where he ordered 3 beers, a margarita, and a mixed drink. Then he moved on to Brickwall Tavern after 9pm and drank several more beers and a shot of Jose Cuervo over the course of several hours according to the lawsuit.
After leaving, Ariana in his car, he veered off the road and hit a pole at 86 mph. He was thrown from the vehicle and was critically injured. Williams sadly was pronounced dead at the scene.
Rodriguez is serving a four year sentence for vehicular manslaughter. Ronald and Chavella Williams, Ariana's parents, want justice and they say they are far from done. They want anyone who had anything to do with their daughter's death to pay and be held accountable. While I understand their grief and anger, I believe it is misguided when bars are hauled into court for selling a legal product to someone legally old enough to drink.
We have a legal drinking age for a reason. You are expected by 21 years of age to be responsible and not break the law. Why have a legal drinking age if we are going to claim Rodriguez at 26 years old and a sworn police officer isn't responsible enough to bear the consequences of his own decisions himself? The idea that bartenders are supposed to play babysitter and keep track of everyone in a crowded, busy establishment is unfair. Rodriguez could have had a designated driver. He could have been taking an Uber. Or he could have also not appeared drunk or even buzzed the way another patron having the same number of drinks might. Also, his drinking was split up between two separate establishments. How does Ruby Tuesday have any idea that he's not calling it a night at that point? And how does Brickwall Tavern have any idea that he was pre-gaming at another bar? Several beers and one shot at the second bar doesn't seem excessive depending on number of hours drinking or body mass of the person. Three beers and two drinks at the first bar doesn't seem excessive if he had a full dinner there and had remained there for several hours.
Then there's the painful elephant in the room that has to be brought up. Ariana's parents are suing everyone they can think of who had anything to do with her death. When you make the decision to get into the car as a passenger of someone you know has been drinking, aren't you also responsible for the decision you make?
It's time we got back to basic responsibilities and stop blaming others for our mistakes. The only person responsible for Rodriguez's drunk driving crash is Rodriguez himself.
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